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Office of Neuroscience Research > WUSTL Neuroscience News > Mind-controlled device helps stroke patients retrain brains to move paralyzed hands

Mind-controlled device helps stroke patients retrain brains to move paralyzed hands



From the WashU Newsroom...

Stroke patients who learned to use their minds to open and close a device fitted over their paralyzed hands gained some control over their hands, according to a new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

By mentally controlling the device with the help of a brain-computer interface, participants trained the uninjured parts of their brains to take over functions previously performed by injured areas of the brain, the researchers said.

“We have shown that a brain-computer interface using the uninjured hemisphere can achieve meaningful recovery in chronic stroke patients,” said Eric Leuthardt, MD, a professor of neurosurgery, of neuroscience, of biomedical engineering, and of mechanical engineering & applied science, and the study’s co-senior author.

The study is published May 26 in the journal Stroke.

Stroke is the leading cause of acquired disability among adults. About 700,000 people in the United States experience a stroke every year, and 7 million are living with the aftermath.

In the first weeks after a stroke, people rapidly recover some abilities, but their progress typically plateaus after about three months.

“We chose to evaluate the device in patients who had their first stroke six months or more in the past because not a lot of gains are happening by that point,” said co-senior author Thy Huskey, MD, an associate professor of neurology at the School of Medicine and program director of the Stroke Rehabilitation Center of Excellence at The Rehabilitation Institute of St. Louis. “Some lose motivation. But we need to continue working on finding technology to help this neglected patient population.”

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